Commissioner Reviews Progress on Northern Border Trade and Security Initiatives
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske delivered an update on border trade and security to a meeting of the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C.
“Security is number one, it is preeminent, it is what we do,” Commissioner Kerlikowske explained. “It was the core principle in the founding of Customs and Border Protection 11 years ago. The security issue is two-pronged: It is security from threats to the U.S. and our economic security.”
He described the increasing trade tempo between the two countries, observing that “Canada’s exports have increased by 170 percent over the last 20 years.” Noting that an average of $910 million in cargo and commodities now crosses the border from Canada to the U.S. each day, the Commissioner said that “customs and border management are pivotal to the success of both countries.”
Commissioner Kerlikowske described efforts with international government and private-sector partners to develop smart ways to maintain physical security, share information, and “move people and trade over the border faster and more efficiently.” He outlined progress on cross-border initiatives that include:
- Global Entry – over a million people are now enrolled in this CBP trusted traveler program for air travelers. CBP is moving rapidly to expand Global Entry. Pre-approved Global Entry members use self-service kiosks to reduce travel time and free officers to focus more on security tasks. “I have never seen a federal program that has received so much positive reaction as Global Entry,” the Commissioner said.
- Automated Passport Control – piloted at the Vancouver airport, APC allows travelers to use self-service kiosks to submit their customs declaration form, resulting in faster processing.
- Centers of Excellence and Expertise – the ten centers improve trade enforcement uniformity “by virtually linking subject-matter experts,” said Commissioner Kerlikowske. “The CEEs can make decisions that apply to all ports of entry.”
- Trusted Trader program pilot – as many goods travel back and forth across the border during the manufacturing process, Trusted Trader will be another way to help these goods move securely in the global supply chain.
- Authorized Economic Operator programs – CBP’s ongoing work with the World Customs Organization to harmonize rules and regulations to facilitate international trade.
- Mutual Recognition Agreements – agreements with partner countries, including Canada, “bind us together with our partners to work on trade, travel and security,” the Commissioner said.
- Pre-inspection Pilot Programs – with pilot projects in Blaine, Washington; Vancouver; and Buffalo, “a lot of good things have come out of the pre-inspection pilots already,” said Commissioner Kerlikowske. “But we don’t want to take a victory lap right now. We want to proceed carefully and make sure we are getting this right.”
The Commissioner also described a new biometric test facility that recently opened in Maryland. “It looks like a mini-airport, so we can try new types of technologies and systems, with volunteers helping test new processes without disrupting air travel,” Commissioner Kerlikowske explained.
The Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance is a grass roots organization of business, private, public-sector organizations and individuals. The group is involved in Canadian-American trade, border crossing, transportation and tourism.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.